“When I was working at the Royal Opera House, that was the moment I found so exciting: the dancers shifting around, crisscrossing, half-dressed in what they wear during the day and half-dressed in their costumes,” said Erdem Moralioglu of his most recent collection. Inspired by the art of ballet, the collection froze a dancer’s wardrobe between the stages of rehearsal and performance. Though likely unintended, the collection was a reflection of our current moment, stuck in this time in between lockdown and living–as we all are–waiting to return to “normal.” This tension wove its way into several collections this season, as designers found ways to channel their creativity and uncertainty into collections that came to life on screen. Despite this tension, most designers looked to the future with resounding optimism. London Fashion Week represented a return to joyful dressing and became somewhat of an antidote to the loungewear we’ve all become so accustomed to.
For designers in London, the goal was simple: make a statement. Working within a virtual presentation’s limitations, designers used voluminous shapes and elongated silhouettes to ensure that their collections made a lasting impression. The puff sleeves at Roksanda and Bora Aksu confidently claimed space, as did the full skirts at Molly Goddard. Extra-long shirts at Joseph and Palmer Harding shifted proportions enough to catch the viewer’s attention. Even the puffer jacket, a time-tested staple, received an update. Long, coated variations appeared at Mithridate and Eudon Choi, and 16Arlington removed the traditional quilting for a unique twist on the classic jacket.
Both an interpretation of our volatile moment and a show of strength in opposition to it, several designers brought the idea of rebellion to life through their collections. “Fragile rebels. It’s about being very protective and hiding the fragility — then having a flower creeping through the collection,” said Simone Rocha of her collection titled Winter Roses. The dichotomy between strength and softness proved to be a theme throughout her collection of leather biker jackets and tulle skirts. An extension of the clothing itself, models sported tight hair twists and sculptural updos, in addition to delicate floral nails. Both decorative and protective, long, floral embellished gloves completed the look. Historical influences at Vivienne Westwood and Natasha Zinko x Duoltd referenced periods of anarchy and upheaval, as feminine silhouettes and painterly prints masked a much more sinister undertone.
While some designers channeled today’s tensions, others remembered the joys of a childhood unburdened by them. Looking back at her childhood and the memories that made her happiest, Roksanda Illinic presented her joyous collection in a three-minute film titled Friday in February. Starring Academy Award-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave alongside the designer’s own family members, the film brought to life the magical moments spent at home with family. Matty Bovan referenced the joys of childhood with a DIY aesthetic reminiscent of childhood art projects. In support of his community, Bovan made an effort to source regional British materials, including sequins made by The Sustainable Sequin Company and knits made by a local hand-knitter. The sustainability conversation continued at Vivienne Westwood, where 90% of looks were made “from materials that have a reduced impact on our environment.” This sentiment took hold of London with the launch of Fashion Values, a global, open access three-year education platform promoting sustainability in the industry–a hopeful step forward for the next generation of industry leaders.
Graphic Floral Print, +137% to LY
Florals, a typical spring-inspired print, will transition into our fall wardrobes. Differing from last year’s dainty floral prints made popular by the Cottagecore aesthetic, London designers like Erdem and Vivienne Westwood rely on bold, bright florals to bring fall-friendly outerwear and sleeved dresses to life. On the contrary, both Emilia Wickstead and Preen by Thornton Bregazzi have brought spring-friendly styles adorned with solid-colored florals to their runways this season.
Statement Collar, +88% to LY
Prep meets fashion as London designers sought to elevate collars of classic workwear essentials in advance of consumers hopefully returning to their offices soon. Both crisp white Simone Rocha’s lace collar and Self-Portrait’s pointed collar contrast against black cardigans, making the entire look suitable for the working, fashionable woman. Vivienne Westwood draws from 80s-inspired suiting with an oversized, printed collar, while Palmer Harding relies on a more minimal style to make a statement.
Flared Pants, +11% to LY
Taking inspiration from the 70s and TikTok’s viral flared leggings trend, designers have brought flared pants in all hues and prints to their runways this season. 16Arlington relied on orange, one of fall’s hottest colors, to design their pants, while Temperley London created a camel-colored suit with an extra flare, similarly relying on solid hues. In contrast, Halpern and Yuhan Wang presented styles full of patterns, as Halpern’s black and gold jumpsuit included flare sleeves and Wang’s black and white floral printed pants had a matching jacket.
Tulle, -24% to LY
Simone Rocha’s collection was a physical interpretation of these contradictory times, juxtaposing leather and hardware with a softer color palette and floral embellishments. “Fragile rebels. It’s about being very protective and hiding the fragility — then having a flower creeping through the collection,” said Rocha of her collection titled Winter Roses. Vivienne Westwood’s interpretation of rebellion took a historical turn. Clashing prints and a t-shirt that read “True Punk” brought the collection to life.
Puff Sleeve, +11 to LY
In her most recent collection, Roksanda Ilincic explored how clothes can bring joy and inspire positivity. Looking back at her childhood and the memories that made her happiest, she created a collection of vibrant hues and dream-worthy silhouettes. This trip down memory lane wove its way into Matty Bovan’s collection as well. The DIY aesthetic served as a reminder of childhood art projects. A fitting image, as Bovan has been teaching free creative thinking and craft skills in Zoom calls for the British Fashion Council’s Fashion and Business Saturday clubs throughout the pandemic.
If you’re interested in our full Fall 2021 runway coverage or want to learn more about trends that are growing — and dying, please contact [email protected]